The Pittsburgh Pirates are mathematically alive for the NL Central Division crown, but realistically that dream ended when they dropped the first game of a pivotal series to the Cardinals at the start of the final week of the regular season. It is time to look ahead to a show down in the Wild Card Game with the Cubs. The Pirates are on a collision course with the force that is Cub’s starting pitcher Jake Arrieta. Arrieta has been masterful since the all-star break. He is 15-1 with a 0.89 ERA in his last 19 starts. He also has been terrific against the Pirates, and if his last start on Sunday Night is any indication the Pirates are in some real trouble. He was perfect through 6 innings. A Gregory Polanco single and an Andrew McCutchen HBP in the 7th inning were his only blemishes on the night.
There is hope that this time around things could be a little different, but only if the Pirates can change the venue. The Pirates were facing Arrieta on the Sunday Night ESPN game of the week at Wrigley Field. Arrieta is better at home and he is better at night. Night games at home he is practically unhittable. I have always hated the lighting at Wrigley Field and I think opposing batters feel the same. I don’t think road teams see the ball well at night in that park. A guy with Arrieta’s stuff is just unfair for hitters that already have enough trouble picking the ball up out of his hand. So just how good is Arrieta under the lights at Wrigley? This is a small sample size for sure but the numbers are still eye opening:
37 strike outs
It is crucial the Pirates maintain the lead over the Cubs for the first wild card spot. They currently hold a three game lead in the loss column. The Pirates stand a much better chance against Arrieta in the familiar hitting environment of PNC Park. If the Pirates are going turn the Lights out on Jake Arrieta and the Cubs they must do it at home.